The underlining politics of Ogun airports
The Senate Committee on Aviation, which was on a fact-finding mission, embarked on an official tour of the ongoing construction works on the two airports situated in Ogun State, as parts of its oversight functions, on Friday, March 5, 2021. By tradition, the Committee, led by its Chairman, Senator Smart Adeyemi and four members, Senators Solomon Adeola, Ahmed Umar, Abba Moro and Mrs. Abiodun Olujimi, made the office of the State Governor located at Okemosan, Abeokuta, its first port of call. During the visit, the state helmsman, Prince Dapo Abiodun, who played host to the visiting committee members, reinforced the commitment and resolve of his administration towards ensuring that the Agro-Cargo Airport situated in Ilishan-Remo, come into reality.
What is actually in place at Wasimi is an Airstrip, and not a full-fledged Airport, despite a huge chunk that the previous administration had ploughed into the project. Instead of consigning the Wasimi Airstrip into a forgotten dustbin, the government has been prudent enough with a redesign of the project for a more complementary purpose to factories, as trailer/container transit terminal and park.
By and large, governance transcends politics and there is nothing wrong in having two airports in a state, Ilishan (Ogun East) and Wasimi (Ogun Central), as it is were, provided there are enough funds to run them.
But the interest of the present administration in the state has been in the area of agriculture, not only to bring about economic development, but also to provide job opportunities for its teeming unemployed youths and also shore up its revenue base. Hence, the need for an Agro-Cargo Airport arose out of the utmost need to help the farmers in the movement of their farm produce from the rural areas and to be transported to the final markets.
The Ilishan Airport project is not a new project. It dates back to 1979 when the then, military junta saw the need to have an alternative airport nearest to the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, because of the proximity of Ogun state to Lagos. It was gathered that, if the Ilishan-Remo project had come on stream, the Bellview crash at Abule Lisa, in Ifo Local Government Area of the state sometime in 2005, would have been averted. The pilot of the ill-fated plane, it was learnt, could have made an emergency landing at the nearest Ilishan-Remo Airport to save the lives of the passengers on board.
However, if politics were to be played the ways and manners the traducers of these intrigues have skewed the project to give it an ethnic colouration then, the people of Ogun cannot and will never forget in a hurry the unpleasant fate that has befallen the then, proposed Olokola seaport, 1DMA Turbine Power Plant, Dangote Refinery and currently the resuscitated Ilishan Agro-Cargo Airport, among other abandoned laudable projects belonging to the state government.
• Femi Ezekiel wrote from Abeokuta.
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